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Metropolitan Council awards contracts for Central Corridor light rail transit project

ST. PAUL, MINN. — The Metropolitan Council awarded the second heavy construction contract for the Central Corridor light rail transit (LRT) Project to Ames Construction/C.S.McCrossan and gave Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. the contract to build 41 light-rail vehicles (LRVs).

Ames/McCrossan’s $113.8 million bid to build the three-mile Minneapolis segment of the line includes betterment work valued at as high as $1 million that was requested by, and will be paid for, by the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the University of Minnesota. The cost to construct the westernmost three miles is $4.2 million below budget.

Thirty-one of the low-floor LRVs are required for the Central Corridor project to provide for two-car operations when revenue service begins in 2014. The cost for the Central Corridor cars is $120.2 million compared with $119.1 million budgeted. The remaining 10 cars are needed to accommodate plans for the Hiawatha Line’s three-car train program. Total cost of Siemens’ proposed base contract is not to exceed $153 million, including the cars for Hiawatha, contingent on satisfactory results from the Pre-Award Buy America Audit.

The bulk of the construction on the Minneapolis segment will start in Spring 2011. Prep work is expected to begin this fall to retrofit the Washington Avenue Bridge to accommodate LRT trains by strengthening the bridge piers. In December, crews will begin the process to tie in the Central Corridor line with the Hiawatha Line just west of the Cedar-Riverside Station to west of the future West Bank Station. When Washington Avenue is closed in May 2011 for its conversion to a transit-pedestrian mall, the work will take two bridge lanes out of service. For details on how this will affect bridge traffic, visit https://tinyurl.com/2fslypa.

The proposed LRV contract also includes an option to purchase up to 58 additional vehicles for future fleet expansion for Central Corridor, Hiawatha, and Southwest lines should the need and funding be identified. The vehicles would be built at the Siemens plant in Sacramento, Calif. The proposed contract includes LRV production along with spare parts to support testing and initial operations. Engineering and testing of the LRVs requires two years prior to the arrival of the first vehicle, which is expected at the end of 2012. After that, delivery is expected at a rate of two to four cars per month.

Walsh Construction earlier this summer won the contract to build the seven-mile St. Paul segment and will begin construction after Labor Day east of the state Capitol on Robert and 12th streets. Walsh will work on University Avenue between Emerald Street and Hamline Avenue in 2011, between Hamline and Robert in 2012, and in downtown St. Paul in 2011-2012.

The project began improvements in May on streets around the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota and utility relocation work last year on Fourth Street in St. Paul. The Federal Transit Administration has agreed to reimburse the project partners for the 50 percent federal share of advanced work once it awards a Full Funding Grant Agreement late this year.

Work on the three-mile Minneapolis segment includes:
•building four stations from West Bank to 29th Avenue;
•relocating utilities necessary for the LRT trackway;
•constructing three miles of double track;
•fully reconstructing streets where track is being installed;
•strengthening the Washington Avenue Bridge by adding four trusses and replacing about 90,000 square feet of concrete deck; and
•work necessary for systems testing by late 2013 to maintain the revenue service date in 2014.

Steps to help businesses, property owners
The Central Corridor Project Office has taken steps to minimize construction-related impediments to businesses and property owners. These steps include:
•limiting construction of each segment on University Avenue to two-thirds at a time while maintaining a lane of traffic on the other third;
•requiring contractors to restore the street in front of any business within 150 days and the sidewalk within 15 days;
•implementing a contractor incentive program to encourage responsiveness, create a partnership between contractors and the community, and promote cooperation (evaluation criteria will include conformance with notification requirements, timely response to public concerns, maintenance of vehicle access and accessible pedestrian routes, and cleanliness of construction sites);
•issuing weekly emailed construction updates to provide the public with advance notice of routes that are closed and their alternates (find the sign-up form to receive the emails at https://tinyurl.com/29kjwm8);
•holding public construction meetings for businesses and the public to get updates and a look ahead from project staff and utilities;
•setting up a 24-hour construction hotline and posting the number, 651-602-1404, in prominent locations throughout a work zone;
•assigning multilingual outreach coordinators from the community to be liaisons between the project and the public from the engineering phase through construction; and
•distributing a brochure to businesses on the corridor and nearby residents about how the project will communicate construction information and how it can be reached with questions and concerns.

For more information about the Central Corridor LRT Project, visit www.centralcorridor.org.